K.P.M. Basheer

Chief Minister, Cabinet colleagues visit Mullaperiyar dam

  • Talks scheduled in Delhi on November 29
  • Rising water level causes panic in the region

    THEKKADY: Putting high hopes on his November 29 talks with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on the Mullaperiyar water level, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said inter-State water disputes could be resolved only through talks.

    He told a news conference here after visiting the dam on Saturday that the entire State was looking forward to the outcome of the talks.

    Signifying the importance his Government attached to the issue, the Chief Minister, along with the three other members of the Cabinet committee on Mullaperiyar, visited the dam on Saturday morning following an alarming rise in the reservoir's water level that caused widespread panic in the region. He is the first Kerala Chief Minister ever to visit the 111-year-old masonry located close to Kerala's border with Tamil Nadu.

    Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Revenue Minister K. P. Rajendran and Water Resources Minister N. K. Premachandran and a lot of Government officials accompanied the Chief Minister.

    The talks between the two Chief Ministers will be held in New Delhi in the presence of Union Minister for Water Resources Saifuddin Soz. "Our minds and bodies are focussed on finding a solution to the Mullaperiyar issue at the negotiating table," Mr. Achuthanandan said. "However, we strongly believe that raising the dam's height [water level], as has been sought by Tamil Nadu, is not the solution." The solution, in his view, lay in ensuring water supply to Tamil Nadu without putting the old dam in danger and without risking the lives of thousands of people living downstream.

    A solution should be found without raising the water level beyond 136 feet (set by a law enacted by the Kerala Assembly), he said.

    When mediapersons asked him what Kerala would do if Tamil Nadu did not budge from its demand to raise the water level to 142 feet at the November 29 talks, Mr. Achuthanandan said: "Let's see if it comes to that."

    On court's earlier orders

    Mr. Achuthanandan said the Supreme Court had "in its latest judgment" wanted the two States to sort out the issue amicably through talks. Since only the last pronouncement of a court mattered, the "previous judgments" were "not valid."

    The water level in the reservoir had risen to 139 feet in the past days, causing panic in the region as it was feared that the dam would burst resulting in huge loss of lives and assets in the region.